5.08.2013

Leave the Emotion In

Have you heard this one? The one where the manager says, "let's leave the emotion out of it and look at the facts...we need answers, not more problems because somebody's feelings were hurt."

If you came to me and said, "I love my job," would you expect me to reply: "Can we leave the emotion out of it?" Of course not. In fact, I'd probably write a celebratory blog post about it, and if it happened more than once - I'll make a case study out of it for the next Lean HR Summit. If that goes anywhere, maybe I can write a book about it and get credit for the newest Lean Tool!

All kidding aside, who are we as managers to tell people how to feel, or worse, when to feel? My observation is that, as managers, we don't know how to face conflict that involves emotion and since we don't know how to do it we demand our team to do the same. Why?

Do we avoid emotions in the workplace because it takes an extraordinary amount of calories to deal with them? Does this phenomena stem from the tendency for us to be fixers? When somebody is not feeling good about things, do we see an opportunity to fix the emotion? Knowing that the fix is probably more on the person feeling the way they do, do we tend to let it slide, since the work to be done would consume more calories than we can afford it? Fixing emotions is a tough slog through the mud, is it not? And if we fix the emotion, did it fix the problem? Most likely not, but do emotions belong in the realm of problem solving?

Most people, as I've suggested will say, "No, leave it out!" Unless of course, unfavorable emotions cause a person to get into trouble - then we have a low calorie solution for dealing with those feelings: HR. This, we were trained to do, and we are good at it. Unfortunately, even this low calorie solution is a form of ignoring how people feel about themselves, their work, their team and the big picture and only looking at the fix, the result - we need an immediate outcome, we need to fix the bad behaviors and emotions for the sake of the organization, or so it would seem:




  • "A leader gets results through people. People must be treated as individuals. Good leadership prevents many problems, but the leader must know how to handle those that do arise." - JRT Manual.


  • Can we ignore how people feel? If we ignore their emotions are we honoring them as individuals? If not, are we treating them like people? Aren't people without emotions considered to be sociopaths? Is that the model team member we want on our team? If not, then why do we ask them to leave their emotions out? How does this square with the hallowed "respect for people" principle? What are we saying to our team when we tell them to leave emotions out? I wonder how many Leansters are guilty of violating the RFP pillar in this manner?




  • "Complete facts must be known or obtained. Opinions and feelings must be found out and considered along with the facts. It is necessary to look at an individual because people are not alike." - JRT Manual.






  • Do I want to make my decisions based on anger alone? Fear? Love? No. But I should try to understand how people are feeling about things. If we don't, then we tend to jump to conclusions when presented with a problem. The Job Relations skill helps provide a framework around not jumping to conclusions, while simultaneously listening, gathering facts, and considering the feelings and emotions around a matter. The JR approach, while not the ONLY way to go about this, is one of the few sources where we see emphasis on the consideration of facts AND feelings. Only then can we make whole decisions that are aligned with the Respect for People pillar:








  • "Decisions are made on the basis of facts properly evaluated and related. And decisions do not make a solution." - JRT Manual





  • Even if we consider emotions, treat people like individuals and make sound, whole decisions, that doesn't mean the problem is gone. We need to check our decision(cause of the solution) for results(effects of the decision leading to the solution):








  • "The leader must know his responsibility to check the results of the decision. It is necessary to watch the timing of action and follow-up, and watch for effect on the objective, on the individual, on the group, and on production." - JRT Manual






  • Lean Thinking, if there is such a thing that can be captured in two simple words, is not the scientific, objective enterprise we would like it to be. The sole reason for this lies within the multi-million person workforce - EVERYBODY is an individual. If people were robots, we wouldn't have to be subjective. To approach each person as if they are more or less the same pair of hands to utilize or the same brain to manipulate is a lethal mistake. Purely objective engagement allows us to pull in everybody without consideration of them as individuals. How efficient would we be at motivating each and every person to reach their full potential? Purely subjective engagement may keep us in the dark and unaware of the facts. How effective will our problem solving actually be?

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